As content creators, we share documents on a daily basis. It is important that all documents are structured properly and can be accessed by all audiences.
Here are a couple tips to follow if you plan to share a PDF, either by email or a link on the website:
- Make sure your document properly uses heading tags, nesting techniques and can be easily tabbed through
- Disable security settings so that screen readers have access to the document
- Non-text content should have alternative text
- Select the document’s language
- Review the color contrast and ensure that it is up to WCAG standards
Note: If you are maintaining your document in Word, then converting to PDF, you should check your Word document for accessibility before converting them to PDFs (see section below about Word). Then check them again in Adobe Acrobat.
Within Adobe Acrobat, there is an accessibility checker that scans through your document and reports errors that need to be resolved to ensure that your document is accessible. For a step-by-step guide on how to use the accessibility checker, visit Create and Verify PDF Accessibility (Adobe).
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for PDFs and Images
If you scan documents, chances are that they are not accessible because they are saved as images. However, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) helps detect text in an image or PDF and convert it to digital text that you can edit and share with others. In Adobe Acrobat, there is a built-in OCR tool that will help you in your effort to convert text in images into text that you can edit yourself. To learn how to use OCR in Adobe Acrobat, view How to OCR Text in PDF and Image Files in Adobe Acrobat (EnvatosTuts+).
If you choose to share a Word document, you should follow these guidelines:
- You should properly use headings (H1-H6).
- Make sure to select colors that show contrast for text and links.
- Tables should include descriptions.
- Images need alternative descriptions.
For a more detailed article about the techniques you should use, visit Microsoft Word: Creating Accessible Documents (WebAIM).
Note: You can convert your word documents into PDFs. (File -> Save As -> File Format -> PDF -> Save)
Word has a built in accessibility checker that you can utilize to ensure your document is accessible. It indicates warnings and errors and will give you an explanation on why you should fix it. For a step-by-step guide on how to use the accessibility checker, visit Use the Accessibility Checker…(Microsoft Office).
- PDF Accessibility (Adobe)
- Make your Word documents accessible (Microsoft Office)
- Accessible Word Document Checklist (Queen’s University)